Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Yes, Even You Can Attain the New Cool: A Visual Essay

When I was young, we were all in agreement about who was cool.

"Sportos, motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, and dickheads" all agreed with Grace the secretary.  They knew that Ferris Beuller was a "righteous dude."



We were sure this guy was cool too-- or at least cooler than Principal Vernon . . . although in retrospect, the whole "Don't mess with the bull young man, you'll get the horns" line seems pretty cool now.

The opening ten minutes of The Breakfast Club are one of the few things from the 80's that pass the nostalgia test. What is the nostalgia test? How do you pass? Something passes the nostalgia test when the actual thing-- movie scene, TV theme song, one hit wonder, novelty toy-- is better than your memory of the thing.  I don't think Stretch Armstrong would pass the novelty test.  I was discussing this topic over the long weekend with a friend, and we wondered if Wrath of Khan would pass. Doubtful.  But Bender versus the world passes. Here it is, if you've forgotten.



And we knew high school would have been much better if we were more like this guy . . .



There was a consensus on what defined cool.  You exhibited grace under pressure, you always thought of the perfect thing to say, and your hair defied gravity.  You were descended from Shakespeare's Petrucchio.  You were Mike Damone.  Wherever you were, that was the place to be.  And if you were making out, you played side one of Zeppelin IV.  You were Detective Axel Foley.  You were Teen Wolf.

But over the years, something happened.  Cool changed.  In fact, it very may may have turned itself inside out. For example:



The next movie, which came earlier, probably helped pave the way for a guy like Napoleon Dynamite. And the soundtrack is so great that it doesn't matter that Max Fischer is a ridiculous dweeb with disturbingly shaggy eye-brows. He is somehow cooler than Miles Davis. I would be cooler if MY life had a great sound track.



You may have empathized with Anthony Michael Hall (The Geek) in Sixteen Candles, but you certainly didn't think he was cool. And you knew where you stood in school; you knew if you were Farmer Ted or Jake Ryan.



But these days, if you conform to the old archetype of cool, you might be headed for disaster. The director might punish you for looking good, being popular, and having hair so beautiful that it is insured for ten thousand dollars.



We can lament the Death of Cool, but, honestly, it was unrealistic and unattainable. It made most of us feel lame and spastic. The new cool is more realistic, less sarcastic, and, most importantly, it gives teenagers hope. And so now we have these guys to aspire to . . . the new paradigm of cool.




Adventureland exemplifies the death of the old cool.  The ostensibly coolest guy in the movie, Mike Connell, isn't really cool at all. He never jammed with Lou Reed. His coolness is a lie. Lou Reed was from a distant, cooler time, and these kids have no access to that. They come to accept that they are just awkward teenagers with dysfunctional families trying to make sense of their lives.

And though it is nerdy, the new cool is not sexist.

 

I'm not sure what to make of this new paradigm, but there is no denying it has been the catalyst for some great movies.  What I am sure about, though, is this: if someone told them the news, Vinnie Barbarino and Arthur Fonzarelli would roll over in their graves.





















If they were around today, they'd probably hang out with this guy.

21 comments:

d-train said...

will have to wait for a vacation day to go through this one.

teej...don't sell yourself short, you're a tremendous bettor. i took boise. beamer and his boys rarely seem to win those big ones. great game - went to bed at half...school night and all.

tech will win the next 7 or 8 games then fall to an nc state or similar. they take on the dukes of jmu this saturday - better check themselves

mayhugh said...

Before their 4 year streak of losing early games, Tech had a knack for winning their first 6 or 7 games and raising fan expectations to ridiculous levels. Then they would lose, their fan base lost interest, and then they'd finish each year 2-2 or 1-3. It's kind of like the Skins - only the expectations are typically ridiculous during the preseason and then the fan base loses interest after the first loss, which transpires by week 2.

I welcome the change from 80's cool. Think you nailed it, the movie cool guys from the 80's were typically not very accessible. Only Ferris seemed like the type of cool guy who would welcome a beer with a stranger.

Squeaky said...

I'm surprised to see no clips from Heathers or Back to the Future. Every other movie from that time period sees to get a mention.

TR said...

I love my dead gay son.

zman said...

I feel like I made the same Heathers joke recently.

zman said...

I did!

http://gheorghe77.blogspot.com/2010/07/fashion-isdivine.html

d-train said...

have watched jersey shore - not an episode in entirety but upwards of 20-30 minutes of a couple.
it is entertaining

T.J. said...

Dave, the pic below the Adventureland dudes doesn't work.

d-train said...

igor - you look so pensive in your new fb profile pic. you look like an author that is in the midst of a great novel. true?

Igor said...

That picture is from a few years ago when I was in the hospital for MRSA -- it was on the front page of the Virginian-Pilot. Awesome way to make the papers. I recently got MRSA again -- twice this year. I think I am dying, so when you speak of me, speak well.

d-train said...

i will.
can i have your ipod?

T.J. said...

Tiger Woods, Ryder Cup participant.

d-train said...

rickie fowler picked for ryder cup...i like it.
will be interesting to see if his little 18-year old hottie will be at his side for the hullabaloo.

Igor said...

D-train, there is a waiting list for the iPod... but what I would do is talk to the executor of my "estate" about who's getting the external hard drive with the 30k mp3's (right now, the front runners are Rob, John Riggins, and this twentysomething hottie in my office) and see if you can barter some comped tee times for a copy.

d-train said...

i'll take the watch, or one of those laptops then.

i guess your old profile pic was taken the day you were rid of the MRSA? or was is just a regular tuesday?

Squeaky said...

TJ, with all the MRSA talk you should check out the latest cool band "You Say MRSA, We Say Party!" I think they might have been a spin off of the Random Idiots.

Dave said...

holy shit. first day of school. it's hot and i hate working. when is g:tb going to pay the mortgage?

zman said...

Best comment of 2010.

Mark said...

HAHAHAHA. Go back to school, Dave. I'm was tired of you and your summer vacation mocking me and my job anyway.

Dave said...

igor has had MRSA 3x. why is there not a post on this? is this like being struck by lightning 3x?

and your external hard drive is worth very little these days. between piratebay and just plain streaming anything you want, there's no reason to wade through that many songs. are you also figuring out to whom you'll will all your mixed tapes?

and, just because it's cool, the female version of executor is executrix. first page of "crying of lot 49."

T.J. said...

I'm not sure Igor's faux eulogy is going as he planned.

Dude, you got any records I can have?